Mobile Phones Guide

Windows Phone 8S by HTC review

Windows Phone 8S by HTC - WP8 Goes Funky

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Launch SRP S$418

Overall rating 7.5/10
Design:
8.5
Features:
7.5
User-Friendliness:
8
Performance:
6.5
Value:
8
THE GOOD
Good design
Great handling
THE BAD
Poor battery life
800x 480 pixels display resolution
Camera performance could be better


Second Signature WP8 Device

Overview

HTC's Windows Phone 8 flagship model, the 8X fell short of expectations even though it has a very unique design, great handling, gorgeous display and good imaging performance. The baton as the signature WP8 device is now passed on to the 8S, which will compete head-on with the Nokia Lumia 820. Will it be outgunned by Nokia? Well, read on to find out more. Here's a quick look at its specs: - 

 

  Key highlights of the Windows Phone 8Sby HTC

  • Windows Phone 8
  • 4.0-inch Super LCD / 800 x 480 pixels
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core 1GHz processor
  • 512MB RAM
  • 4GB internal storage (with microSD card support)
  • 7GB SkyDrive
  • 5-megapixel rear autofocus camera / LED flash / 720p video recording
  • Beats Audio integration
  • 1700mAh battery (non-removable)
  • 120.5 x 63 x 10.28mm
  • 113g
     
  • Price and Availability: Available now at $418

Design

The design of the WP8S does not deviate much from its larger sibling, the WP8X. You still get the angular chassis with contoured sides and non-slip matte polycarbonate build, which gives a good feel and handling. In terms of build quality, we have no qualms about the WP8S as it is considered one of the better built devices of its class (for the mid-range segment).

Encased in a two-tone body with a choice of either Fiesta Red or Atlantic Blue, the WP8S is a tad too loud for the corporate world but will find itself at home in the hands of the younger crowds. 

Sharing the same design principles as the WP8X means that the WP8S also suffers the same usability issues - we find the Power button (found on the top left corner) and the volume controls (top right side) to lack sufficient tactile feedback when pressed as they are too flushed to the body.

 

Features 

We've covered some of HTC's software additions to the WP8 user interface in our review of the WP8X. Just in case, here's a recap of the exclusive HTC features: 

  • Beats Audio integration
  • HTC
  • Photo Enhancer 

 

Performance

The WP8S runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core 1GHz processor and 512MB RAM. Despite its mid-range specs, we found the overall user experience on the device to be generally snappy and smooth. 

Web Browsing Performance

How the Phones Stack Up
Device Windows Phone 8S by HTC Apple iPhone 5 BlackBerry Z10 Huawei Ascend P1 Nokia Lumia 820
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon S4
dual-core 1GHz
Apple A6 dual-core 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core 1.5GHz TI OMAP 4460 dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdraong S4 dual-core 1.5GHz
GPU Adreno 305 PowerVR SGX 543MP3 Adreno 225 PowerVR SGX540 Adreno 225
RAM 512MB 1GB 2GB 1GB 1GB
OS Windows Phone 8 Apple iOS 6 BlackBerry 10 Google Android 4.0 Windows Phone 8

When it comes to web browser performance, WP8S fared worse than its WP8 counterpart, the Lumia 820. This can be attributed to its slower CPU and 512MB RAM. This benchmark measures JavaScript performance on tasks relevant to the use of JavaScript such as encryption and text manipulation; a lower score is a better. However, as mentioned earlier the general usage experience is good, but when subjected to benchmarks, the differences start to show.

 

Multimedia Performance 

The WP8S has a 4-inch Super LCD display with a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels. While it could not match up to the superior display of the WP8X, the display of the WP8S is more than adequate to meet the needs of mainstream consumers. Images and text look fine on the WP8S (if you haven't been spoiled by toying with higher resolution phones) with good viewing angles and contrast.

Out of the box, the WP8S comes with 4GB onboard storage capacity although actual available capacity is much lesser due to the mobile OS. For those who need more storage space on the WP8S, there is a microSD card slot for memory expansion. In contrast, the WP8X comes with 16GB onboard and doesn't have microSD expansion capability.

On the imaging front, the WP8S is equipped with a 5-megapixel rear autofocus camera, F2.8 aperture and 35mm lens. It does not come with a front-facing camera, hence video calls aren't possible on the WP8S. 

 

 

Battery Mileage

Our standard battery test for mobile phones includes the following parameters:

  • Looping a 800 x 480-pixel video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter
Test Phones Compared
Specifications/Device Windows Phone 8S by HTC Apple iPhone 5 BlackBerry Z10 Huawei Ascend P1 Nokia Lumia 820
Processor
  • Dual-core 1GHz
  • Dual-core 1GHz
  • Dual-core 1.5GHz
  • Dual-core 1.5GHz
  • Dual-core 1.5GHz
Display Size
  • 4-inch
  • 4-inch
  • 4.2-inch
  • 4.3-inch
  • 4.3-inch
Display Type
  •  Super LCD
  • IPS LCD
  • TFT LCD
  • AMOLED
  • AMOLED
Display Resolution
  • 800 x 480 pixels
  • 1136 x 640 pixels
  • 1280 x 768 pixels
  • 960 x 540 pixels
  • 800 x 480 pixels
Dimensions
  • 120.5 x 63 x 10.28mm
  • 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6mm
  • 130 x 65.6 x 9mm
  • 129 x 64.8 x 7.69mm
  • 123.8 x 68.5 x 9.9mm
Weight
  • 113g
  • 112g
  • 136g
  • 130g
  • 160g
Battery
  • 1700mAh
  • 1440mAh
  • 1800mAh
  • 1670mAh
  • 2000mAh

  

Like the WP8X, the WP8S ranked last in our standard battery test with the lowest uptime of four hours and 23 minutes. This is quite disappointing considering that the 4-inch Apple iPhone 5 with a higher screen resolution and a smaller battery capacity could last longer. The low battery mileage of the WP8S can be attributed to its high power consumption of 1.47W, about 50% more than all other phones in this comparison.

In the Portability Index where the overall dimensions, weight and battery performance are taken into consideration, the WP8S fared the worst with the lowest ratio. The Nokia Lumia 820 was ahead with a marginally better score, but it would have scored a lot better if not for its hefty weight. The WP8S may be the second lightest device, but it is also the thickest and has the worst battery performance among the phones compared.

Outside of our standard battery test, the WP8S could barely make it through a day of frequent web browsing, text messaging, phone calls and gaming. If you are out with the WP8S, there is a need to watch your usage, or diligently charge it midday. It is important to note that actual battery mileage will vary under different usage conditions. Having said that, all Windows Phone devices come with a built-in battery saver option in the OS, which will turn off some services while in standby mode to conserve battery life. That should help you buy time to find a power outlet before the phone powers off.

 

Conclusion

HTC has always been in the lead when it comes to designing their mobile devices (such as the One), and the WP8S impressed us with its solid build and handling despite its mid-range price point. Unfortunately, hardware expertise can only bring a device that far, and for the WP8S, it is not far enough and the competition was able to run laps around it.

Its most obvious competitor, the Nokia Lumia 820, comes with better specs such as a newer, faster dual-core processor, 1GB RAM, a slightly bigger display, and the exclusive suite of Nokia apps and services. In terms of performance, the Lumia 820 overwhelmed the WP8S in benchmarks and actual usage scenarios. Camera performance for the Lumia 820 is also miles ahead and is of notable importance for the more social folks.

The Lumia 820 may be more expensive at S$699 (though if you're interested, it's available at less than S$600 in many places), but we reckon consumers are willing to fork out the extra cash for better overall performance. Nonetheless, consumers who are looking for an affordable Windows Phone 8 device can consider the S$418 WP8S by HTC. It is one of the cheapest Windows Phone 8 devices, but you'll have to be mindful of its drawbacks.

For those who don't mind a non Windows Phone 8 device, the Huawei Ascend P1 is a formidable option that's available at just under S$500, making it a steal for its specs and performance all around if you need the most value for money mid-range smartphone.